Surging wage costs are making it harder than ever to afford great hires. But before you balk at today’s salary demands, make sure your practice is paying itself enough.

IF YOU’RE FEELING the squeeze lately, you’re hardly alone. Overall, dental practices across the U.S. are experiencing a sharp uptick in visits and a smaller pool of quality potential team members from which to hire. It’s simple supply and demand, and maintaining a sense of sanity is essential. That’s easier said than done, right? Especially if you’re cranking every single day, without enough team members to support your operations.

Today’s best job candidates are well within their rights to demand salaries in line with current market value. Why should we expect great team members to settle for less than they’re worth—particularly now, when they’ll be working harder than ever? The problem isn’t that they’re asking too much (though that’s sometimes the case). Rather, it’s often that practices are charging too little—and too many fail to earn maximum ROI against their current operations.

Salaries rise and fall in real time. How can you expect to keep up if you’re stuck working under pre-pandemic conditions? In the meantime, the A-players on your team are frustrated by having to work with subpar colleagues. Patients aren’t getting the best possible experience. Together, those things conspire to drag your practice down. If you can uncover hidden revenue, though, you can afford to hire and pay the best people, taking a lot of pressure off while your operations return to a comfortable equilibrium.

When did you last do a deep dive into the critical areas that make your practice tick? Probably not recently, as you’ve been busy just trying to keep up. It’s times like these, however, when you most need to step back and evaluate key performance indicators:

  • UCR fees
  • Misused/underutilized codes
  • Negotiation leverage
  • Hygiene efficiency levels
  • Write-off percentages
  • New patient acquisition/marketing

And yes, you likely need outside help. That’s OK! Practices need to focus on keeping up without compromising care. Your consulting investment will more than pay for itself. I’ve seen doctors uncover tens of thousands of dollars, even millions, depending on the business size.

Every consultant is different, but this is how I do it: First, our team evaluates your practice and creates a digestible presentation so you can absorb our findings and recommendations quickly. Our coaches schedule a one-hour video consultation with your office manager and practice owner, offering action items as a road map for revenue-building strategies. To be most effective, we ask clients to pick the three highest-
priority items off that list to focus on. Once those are integrated into your culture, we pick the next three, and the three after that.

It’s crucial not to overwhelm the team. Good things take time, and once these behaviors become part of your culture, you’ll see a big difference in the bottom-line numbers. A good coach should be a flawless fit; plans should be easy to implement and must recognize the barriers your practice faces. This personalization is vital, because a ruthless approach keyed solely to driving revenue is a losing proposition that alienates staff and risks damaging your culture.

The key point: If your new staffing costs are out of line with your practice’s overall revenue, the problem might be your practice and not today’s crazy labor market. Don’t be hard on yourself, as these are unprecedented economic times. A good coach can help free up the dollars you need to compete and continue your practice’s upward trajectory. Questions? Feel free to contact

KRISTEN JORDAN is Benco Dental’s Practice Solutions Business Developer, specializing in revenue analysis. She has been an office manager, regional manager and operations executive for several large practices. Contact her at